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THE WAY FORWARD FOR INDIGENOUS ART IN FAR NORTH QUEENSLAND

CARVINGS AT WIK KUGU ARTS CENTRE AURUKUN

CARVINGS AT WIK KUGU ARTS CENTRE AURUKUN

If you ask people to talk about Australian indigenous art, most will think immediately of dot paintings – a style that comes from the deserts of central Australia and is instantly recognisable all over the world as Australian and indigenous. It’s by far the most commercially successful branch of our indigenous arts scene. But it’s not the only style. Indigenous art varies widely in style and choice of medium across the country, but it can be hard for artists to compete with the universally popular dot paintings.

Many visitors are drawn to far north Queensland by indigenous art. We have many indigenous art centres around FNQ, and indigenous art is available in Cairns. For some years our city has put on CIAF – the Cairns Indigenous Arts Fair, bringing many thousands of visitors and many economic benefits to artists and the region. CIAF was held in a scaled down form this year, and it remains to be seen how viable an event it will be in the future with significantly less State Government funding.

Around our region, indigenous arts centres encourage the cultural and spiritual expression which is central to indigenous art. But in many communities, the practice of art is also a valuable source of income, maybe the only viable way for people to remain in their country and make a living. So it’s crucial that their work can gain wider exposure – as it’s a very long journey to some of those arts centres.

The newly formed Indigenous Art Centre Alliance Inc hopes to address these challenges. It represents 13 arts centres in FNQ, Cape York Peninsula & Torres Strait. It’s members met in Cairns this week to consider the way forward. LISTEN to my interview with manager Pam Bigelow & Treasurer Dev Lengjel here  

AURUKUN CAMP DOG CARVING

AURUKUN CAMP DOG CARVING

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Posted by on October 31, 2013 in Aboriginal, arts & culture, Cape York Peninsula, EFFINCUE, far north Queensland, indigenous, rd on the road, Torres Strait

 

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CREATING AN INDIGENOUS FUTURE IN COEN CAPE YORK PENINSULA

coen signBack in 2008, the Queensland and Federal Governments, and the Cape York Institute for Policy & Leadership,  introduced the Cape York Welfare Reform program in four communities –  Aurukun, Coen, Hope Vale and Mossman Gorge.

The idea was to find locally informed ways to address social dysfunction, alcohol abuse and behavioural problems – and the central agency in this program is the Family Responsibilities Commission.

Its job is to support the restoration of socially responsible standards of behaviour and to assist community members to resume and maintain primary responsibility for their well-being. It’s generally agreed the program has made a difference for the better, but it’s unclear how much longer the two governments will fund it.

In Coen, local people want to see the reform program continue, not just because it’s made a difference – they say it has also created new opportunities.

Billy Pratt has a role with the FRC – and as you’ll hear, he has a lot of other roles in Coen as well: with the indigenous cultural centre, the indigenous ranger group, the local school – as well as a full time job with the Shire Council, for which he won a Mayoral Achievement award in 2006.

LISTEN Click on the red arrow to hear Billy Pratt talk about life in Coen and his hopes for the future of his community

Raising kids is no easy thing – they don’t come with an instruction manual – so parents, especially first time parents, need advice, help, support. In the big cities, there’s plenty of that to be found – but in small remote communities, not so much.

Tahnee Creek is a young indigenous woman helping parents in Coen support and care for their young children. She’s passionate about helping families, and about education. Tahnee is the local child and family support services co-ordinator.

LISTEN Click on the red arrow to hear Tahnee talk about her work and the importance of education in remote indigenous communities

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Posted by on July 14, 2013 in Aboriginal, Cape York Peninsula, community, EFFINCUE, far north Queensland, indigenous

 

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INDIGENOUS VIEWS ON MINING AND WORLD HERITAGE ON CAPE YORK PENINSULA FNQ

There’s a diversity of views among indigenous communities in Cape York Peninsula on the Australian Government’s recent push for World Heritage listing, and on the prospect of new or expanded mining in the region.

The Federal Government has run a long consultation process to muster indigenous support for a World Heritage listing – but the prospect of an election in the next few months has probably stalled the process, at least for now.

At the same time, both the Federal and Queensland Governments have given the nod to new or expanded mining activity in the region. The long-established bauxite mining around Weipa, on the western Cape, will expand, and several companies are bidding for the right to extract bauxite around the indigenous community of Aurukun, south of Weipa.

And the Queensland Government has called for tenders to prospect for petroleum and gas in what it calls “greenfield areas” – including on native title land at Pascoe River http://statements.qld.gov.au/Statement/2013/5/28/new-land-release-a-boost-to-exploration-opportunities

And earlier this year, a company linked to Gina Rinehart applied for exploration permits near Laura, in country rich with ancient indigenous rock art. The company withdrew its application a few days later, saying it had not known about the rock art.

At Aurukun, Mayor Derek Walpo welcomes mining as the key to a prosperous future for his community – elsewhere on the Cape, communities are saying no to mining.

LISTEN Click on the red arrow to hear indigenous leaders talk about mining and world heritage on Cape York Peninsula

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We heard Derek Walpo – the mayor of Aurukun Shire Council: David Claudie – chairman Chuulangun Aboriginal Corporation, and Thomas George, a traditional owner from Laura

 

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CHECK OUT OUR CAPE YORK PENINSULA PICTURE GALLERY – THEN COME VISIT US HERE IN FAR NORTH QUEENSLAND!

We did our annual Cape York Peninsula road trip early this year, in June instead of October. It was early in the dry season, the roads were in great shape and we travelled to Lakeland, Laura, Lama Lama National Park, Coen, Wenlock River, Aurukun and Cooktown. All our interviews are up on this blog – and here’s an assortment of pictures from this wonderful part of the world.

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Pictures by ABC Open’s Suzie Cray, ABC Far North legend Phil Staley, Lyndal Scobell from Cape York NRM, and me.

 
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Posted by on July 10, 2013 in Aboriginal, arts & culture, Cape York Peninsula, Coral Sea, EFFINCUE, environment, far north Queensland, indigenous

 

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VISIT THE AURUKUN ARTS CENTRE – WESTERN CAPE YORK PENINSULA

a4The ABC Far North team visited Aurukun in June, an indigenous community just south of Weipa on western Cape York Peninsula. The town began life in 1904 as a church mission, and over the years it’s become home to about 1200 people from the five clans that have lived in the area for centuries – the Sara, Winchanam, Apalech, Putch and Wanam. Collectively, they’re known as the Wik and Kugu people.

Aurukun has the oldest established art centre on Cape York Peninsula. The Wik and Kugu Arts Centre has been giving artistic and commercial support to local artists for more than 50 years, and many of those artists have gained national, even international recognition. Artists work in many media – paintings and fibre art particularly, but Aurukun is best known for its sculptures. There’s a long history of works carved in soft timber for ceremonial use. When the ceremony was over, sculptures were discarded and left to break down in the bush. In the past decade, Aurukun artists have begun to seek a commercial market and Aurukun sculptures are highly sought after works of art. They often depict an artist’s plant or animal totem, and the most widely known are the much loved carvings of Aurukun camp dogs.

Dev Lengjel is the new manager of the Arts Centre. He says there’s no shortage of talented artists in Aurukun and on Cape York Peninsula — the challenge for him is to spread the word about the artists and their work.

LISTEN Click on the red arrow to hear Dev show reporter Phil Staley through the Wik and Kugu Arts Centre at Aurukun

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More about Aurukun at http://aurukun.qld.gov.au/

 
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Posted by on July 2, 2013 in Aboriginal, arts & culture, Cape York Peninsula, EFFINCUE, far north Queensland, indigenous

 

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MEET THE AURUKUN SCHOOL BAND – COMING TO CAIRNS FOR A CONCERT IN JULY

map-of-yarrabah-photo-via-yarrabah-state-schoolYou’ll find the town of Yarrabah about an hour’s drive south-east of Cairns – an indigenous community of about 2500 people. It was formed in the 1890s, when Anglican missionary Ernest Gribble encouraged the area’s indigenous people to move to the site of the present-day town.

By the early 1900s, Yarrabah had its own indigenous brass band, beginning a rich tradition of instrumental music in the area that thrived until the early 1970s. The Queensland Music Festival hopes to spark a revival with next month’s Yarrabah Band Festival.

The Festival is on Monday July 22, with performances by the newly-formed Yarrabah community band and indigenous school bands from across Cape York Peninsula. Kids aged six and up have been working and playing music with QMF teams at Cape York Aboriginal Australian Academy campuses in Coen, Hopevale and Aurukun in preparation for the Festival.

I got to hear two of the school bands in action on our recent Cape York road trip. At Coen, we found the kids rehearsing through their lunch break, and at Aurukun, we were there when the band played for the whole school for the first time. It was a great day for the Aurukun school community.

LISTEN Click on the red arrow to hear the Aurukun band’s first concert performance and meet their musical mentors

We heard Queensland Music Festival project coordinator Emma Kurik and Australian jazz legend John Morrison with reporter Phil Staley. The Yarrabah Band Festival begins at 4.30pm Monday 22 July at Bishop Malcolm Park Yarrabah – it’s a free event. http://www.qmf.org.au/public/public/?id=300

As part of the celebrations, visiting musicians Darren Percival (The Voice), Thelma Plum (Deadly Award Winner) and the Morrison Brothers will take to the stage before an all-in, massed-band finale.

You can watch a video of the Aurukun band at https://open.abc.net.au/openregions/qld-far-north-28qv9td/posts/brass-band-babies-94ez0gc

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Posted by on June 17, 2013 in Aboriginal, Cape York Peninsula, EFFINCUE, far north Queensland, indigenous, music, Radio Feed, rd on the road

 

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TUNE IN TO INDIGENOUS RADIO AURUKUN CAPE YORK PENINSULA

HANGING OUT IN THE 107.7 STUDIO AURUKUN

HANGING OUT IN THE 107.7 STUDIO AURUKUN

Our radio station, ABC Far North, covers a huge area of Queensland. Our listening area is just a bit bigger than the state of Victoria. In many areas, we’re the only local station, and there are still places where you can’t hear us, or anything else. But many of the remote indigenous communities around far north Queensland have their own radio stations. We visited one last week – at Aurukun, on western Cape York Peninsula.

Aurukun is about 800 kilometres north-west of Cairns, one of Australia’s most remote communities. It’s home to about 1200 people, most of whom belong to one of five spiritual clan groups: Apalech, Winchanam, Wanam, Chara and Puutch. The local language is Wik Mungkan.

In the centre of town, you’ll find the Indigenous Knowledge Centre – a library, internet hub and radio station. That station has been back on air for a few months now, broadcasting on 107.7FM. The station is part of the Black Star Network http://qram.com.au/2013/03/23/aurukun-joins-black-star/

Centre co-ordinator Monica Haynes and her team make local programs in English and Wik Mungkan. And Monica is learning some Wik Mungkan from Jacinta Karyuka – Jacinta’s been doing work experience at the station, and she’s convinced radio is the career for her.

LISTEN Click on the red arrow to tune in to 107.7 FM Aurukun and meet Monica & Jacinta.

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Posted by on June 12, 2013 in Aboriginal, Cape York Peninsula, community, EFFINCUE, far north Queensland, indigenous, Radio Feed

 

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